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LAPD crash: SUV passenger appears in court

Bryan Varela, a passenger in an SUV that slammed into an LAPD cruiser in Harbor City, appears in court on Friday, May 9, 2014.
May 9, 2014 2:45:01 PM PDT
The passenger in the SUV that crashed into an LAPD vehicle in Harbor City, killing an officer, was in court Friday.

Bryan Varela, 19, had earlier been convicted for driving under the influence and evading a police officer. He is accused of violating his probation when he allegedly fled the scene of the fatal crash Saturday.

Police say Bryan Varela's older brother, 20-year-old Mynor Varela, was driving an SUV that intentionally slammed into an LAPD patrol car, which had been pursuing a speeding Camaro. LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez died in the crash, and his partner, Richard Medina was injured.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Mynor Varela hit the police car to help his friend, the Camaro driver.

Investigators say surveillance video showed the SUV pursuing the police car during the chase, and dash-cam video from the wrecked patrol car shows when the cruiser made a U-turn, Mynor Varela aimed his vehicle at the cruiser, crossed the center divider and slammed the cruiser broadside.

Mynor Varela has been charged with murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, two counts of assaulting a peace officer and leaving the scene of an accident. The complaint includes a special circumstance of second-degree murder of a peace officer. Bryan Varela has not been charged in the crash.

During Bryan Varela's hearing Friday, the commissioner said there was probable cause of criminality. Bryan Varela will remain in custody pending a probation revocation hearing on May 30.

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